Bell’s Palsy: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment & Everything You Should Know
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What is Bell’s Palsy?
The facial muscles can become temporarily weak or even paralyzed when a person has Bell’s palsy, a disorder known as Bell’s palsy. Inflammation, swelling, or pressure on the nerve that controls your facial muscles can all lead to the development of this condition.
The disorder makes one side of your face sag or grows rigid, and it can affect either. On the side of your face that is affected, you might find it difficult to smile or close your eye. Bell’s palsy is considered to be a transitory condition in the vast majority of cases, and patients typically feel better after a few weeks or months have passed.
Bell’s palsy can affect people at any age, although those between the ages of 16 and 60 are the most likely to be diagnosed with the disorder. Charles Bell, a Scottish anatomist, is credited with being the first person to describe Bell’s palsy. As a result, the condition bears his name.
What causes Bell’s palsy?
Facial weakness or paralysis can be the result of Bell’s palsy, which happens when the seventh cranial nerve becomes enlarged or compressed, leading to the condition. Although the precise reason for this nerve injury is unknown, many researchers in the medical field Trusted Source feel that it is most likely brought on by an infection caused by a virus.
The following viruses and bacteria have been identified as possible contributors to the development of Bell’s palsy:
Herpes simplex virus, which can result in fever blisters as well as genital herpes
HIV, which impairs the function of the immune system; sarcoidosis, which leads to inflammation of the organs
This disease is caused by the herpes zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox.
The Epstein-Barr virus, which is responsible for the disease mononucleosis
The bacterial infection known as Lyme disease is transmitted to humans by infected ticks.
According to the opinions of a number of reputable medical professionals, Bell’s palsy can be brought on by the activation of a latent viral infection that had been lying dormant. Possible factors include things like being under a lot of stress or having recently recovered from an illness. A recent traumatic event to the body or even a lack of sleep could also be a factor. There is also the possibility of the trigger being an autoimmune disease.
It is hypothesized that the facial nerve responds to the infection by swelling, which then creates pressure on the bony canal (also known as the Fallopian canal) that the facial nerve travels through on its way to the side of the face.
Inflammation of the facial nerve, as reported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (a reliable source), limits the amount of blood flow and oxygen that is delivered to the nerve cells. Because of the damage done to the cranial nerve and the nerve cells, the face muscles may become paralyzed.
The National Organization for Rare Disorders indicates that some persons may even have a genetic susceptibility to develop Bell’s palsy. This possibility is discussed in the next sentence.
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symptoms of Bell’s palsy
The severity of the symptoms associated with Bell’s palsy can range from a slight weakening to complete paralysis. If the facial nerve is subjected to an increased amount of inflammation and compression, the facial paralysis will often be more severe, and it will take the nerve significantly more time to repair and restore its normal function.
Bell’s palsy is a condition that can develop anywhere from one to two weeks after a person has:
a sore throat, an ear infection, and an eye problem
The symptoms typically come on suddenly, and you may first become aware of them when you try to eat or drink in the morning or when you first wake up in the morning.
The appearance of droopiness on one side of the face and an inability to open or close the eye on the affected side are both telltale signs of Bell’s palsy. Bell’s palsy can sometimes affect both sides of a person’s face, but this only happens very rarely.
Bell’s palsy also manifests itself in a variety of other ways, including the following:
face weakness, a sagging mouth, an inability to create facial expressions such as smiling or frowning, and trouble pronouncing specific words are all symptoms of facial paralysis.
Dry eyes and lips led to a change in taste.
drooling, sensitivity to sound, difficulty eating and drinking, muscular twitching in the face, the discomfort of the eye on the afflicted side, and headache are all symptoms that can be associated with this condition.
Make an appointment with your primary care physician as soon as possible if you experience any of these symptoms. It is never a good idea to diagnose Bell’s palsy on your own. There is a possibility that the symptoms will be the same as those of other dangerous illnesses, such as a brain tumor or a stroke.
What are the risk factors for Bell’s palsy?
The following factors raise your likelihood of having Bell’s palsy:
are diabetic have a lung infection or a pregnancy-related condition
having a history of the disease running in their family
How is Bell’s palsy diagnosed?
Your facial muscles will be evaluated at the first stage of the process, which will consist of a physical examination performed by your physician. They will also ask you questions regarding your symptoms, such as when you first noticed them or when they first started appearing in your life.
Although there is no one specific lab test that can be used by your doctor to confirm that you certainly have Bell’s palsy, your doctor can utilize a range of tests to aid make a diagnosis of Bell’s palsy. Bell’s palsy is characterized by weakness or paralysis of the facial muscles.
These tests can also assist in determining whether or not other potential causes of facial weakness, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome or Lyme disease, are not to blame for the symptoms being experienced.
These testing might involve the following:
tests on the patient’s blood to determine whether or if they have a bacterial or viral infection
testing of the blood for the diagnosis of diabetes and other disorders
Imaging tests, such as an MRI or CT scan, examine the nerves in your face and exclude the potential of having a stroke or developing a brain tumor.
an electromyography (EMG) test, in which a doctor inserts very thin wire electrodes into a muscle to confirm whether there is any damage to the nerves that control the facial muscles — this test can also determine how much damage there is lumbar puncture may be done if Lyme disease is suspected. an electromyography (EMG) test is performed when a doctor inserts very thin wire electrodes into a muscle.
How is Bell’s palsy treated?
The symptoms of Bell’s palsy typically improve even in cases where the condition is not treated. On the other hand, it can take a couple of weeks or even a few months for the muscles in your face to get back to their regular strength.
The following treatments could prove beneficial to your overall rehabilitation.
Your physician can suggest that you take drugs like:
antiviral or antibacterial medication, which may be prescribed if a virus or bacteria is determined to be the cause of your Bell’s palsy; over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, which can help relieve mild pain; eye drops to keep your affected eye well lubricated; and corticosteroid drugs, which reduce inflammation.
a bandage for the eye (for your dry eye)
a soothing facial massage with a warm, damp towel placed over your face to reduce pain.
facial exercises are designed as physical therapy for the purpose of stimulating your facial muscles
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Are there potential complications with Bell’s palsy?
The majority of persons who get a bout of Bell’s palsy will make a full recovery without experiencing any consequences. On the other hand, Bell’s palsy can present itself with complications in more severe situations. The following are some examples of these:
There is a possibility that the seventh cranial nerve has been damaged. This nerve is responsible for controlling the muscles of your face.
On the side of your eye that is damaged, you may experience extreme dryness in the eye, which can lead to eye infections, ulcers, or even the loss of your vision.
It’s possible that you suffer from synkinesis, a disorder in which the movement of one portion of your face induces an involuntary movement in another part of your face. When you grin, for instance, one of your eyes might close.
How to manage Bell’s palsy
What else, in addition to taking your medication, can you do to make it easier to deal with the symptoms of Bell’s palsy as you wait for them, hopefully, to go away?
During the day, you should apply eye drops or artificial tears. It’s possible to get a really severe case of dry eye, also known as exposure keratitis, if your eyelid doesn’t close all the way or if you can’t blink. In the absence of therapy, you run the risk of sustaining some damage to your cornea. Your eye doctor will be able to provide you with more detailed instructions regarding the frequency with which you should apply the drops. If you need to use eye drops to lubricate your eyes more than four times a day, you should make sure to use preservative-free eye drops so that your eyes are not irritated.
At night, you should apply a thick lubricating ointment to your eye. This type of thicker ointment will minimize moisture loss in your eye while you sleep, but it may cause your eyesight to become cloudy as a side effect. Apply immediately prior to getting into bed.
At night, you should tape the eye that is hurt shut. When you go to bed, shut your eyelids with some surgical tape so that your eye won’t become dry during the night. This will avoid your eye from having to deal with irritation. When you wake up, remove the tape carefully so that you do not accidentally irritate your eyelid or the skin that surrounds your eye.
You might want to try covering one eye. To avoid dry eye and minimize the amount of moisture that is lost, some specialists recommend wearing a patch or moisture chamber over the affected eye.
Put a straw in it. When your mouth is hanging open, it can be challenging to sip from a glass at times. If you want to minimize the amount of liquid that runs down your chin while drinking water or other liquids, try using a straw.
Communicate with another person. Do not be afraid to talk about how you are feeling with a close friend you can trust or even with a counselor or therapist if you are experiencing low self-esteem in relation to your appearance.
Think about using different treatments. The symptoms of Bell’s palsy cannot be cured with complementary therapies, but you may find that they make you feel better overall. Consider putting it to use, for instance, if you have a go-to method for relieving stress such as a relaxation exercise or another stress-reduction tactic.
Make an effort to get as much rest as you can. Dealing with the symptoms of facial paralysis and the changes they bring can be a source of stress. Make it a priority to get as much rest as you can, make sure you get enough sleep and pay attention to what you put in your body.
What is the long-term outlook for people with Bell’s palsy?
People who have Bell’s palsy typically have a positive prognosis for their condition. The length of time it takes to recover might be affected by the degree of nerve injury.
After the first appearance of symptoms, you might start to feel better within two to three weeks if the nerve damage isn’t too severe. This is the case if you start to experience improvement. If the nerve damage is more severe, it may take anywhere from three to six months before any noticeable improvement can be seen. In really unusual situations, the symptoms can keep coming back or they might stay the same forever.
If you see any of the signs of Bell’s palsy, you should contact your physician as soon as possible. Receiving therapy as soon as possible can both hasten your recovery and help you avoid any consequences.
Bell’s palsy is a disorder that weakens or paralyzes the facial muscles, often affecting only one side of the patient’s face. When the cranial nerve that is responsible for controlling your facial muscles becomes inflamed, swollen, or compressed, this condition might develop.
The process of getting a diagnosis of Bell’s palsy can be very upsetting. There is no medication or treatment that will fast clear it up, and no one really understands for sure what causes it either. Additionally, the strategies that are successful for one individual might not be applicable to another.
Even though Bell’s palsy is typically only a transitory ailment, it can still demand a significant amount of patience on the patient’s part as they wait for the nerves and muscles in their face to begin functioning normally again.
Your primary care physician might be able to assist you by starting treatment and offering support. As you work toward getting better, it’s a good idea to experiment with a few different methods that can decrease the impact on your life and your face.